Zwahlen, R. K.1
1Extension Assistant Professor, Utah State University Extension, Castle Dale, UT, 84513



Examine nature journaling as a youth education program that allows for development of a wide range of skills and incorporates a variety of topics. These include:

Art – Students learn basic sketching, perspective, form, scale, and color.

Language – Students practice methods of describing what they see, hear, and feel.

Math – There are opportunities to use skills like counting, measuring, and estimating.

Healthy living – Students spend time moving and exercising outdoors. Observation of nature can also develop mindfulness.

Science – There are opportunities to discuss several of the natural sciences as well as developing scientific skills of observation, questioning, and theorizing.



We began a nature journaling program with approximately 50 students. The program ran roughly twice a month for 4 months. Students were encouraged to spend time observing nature and recording observations in a combination of sketching and written description. We spent the first of each session giving instruction and providing a prompt. Students then spent 30 minutes in the school yard and adjacent city park. Finally, the children were given time to share their observations and discuss.

The program required minimal monetary inputs. Students used their own pencils and pens and we were able to use a small grant to purchase sketch books. 


Students in the program had a 7% increase in math and science scores in contrast to other schools in the district whose scores stayed almost flat. We also observed an increase in art skills. Both students and teachers gave the program positive feedback. Teachers observed an increase in students’ interest and enthusiasm for learning. Teachers also reported students who struggled in a traditional classroom setting were thriving using the nature journal model. We are currently expanding the program to 4 other schools in the district. 


Nature journaling is a method of learning that can be simply and inexpensively adapted to youth education programs with positive improvements in test results and student engagement.


All Accepted Posters